Stay healthy in Dubrovnik

Last updated 06 November 2019

Dubrovnik is a healthy city, without any outbreaks or significant health issues. Nevertheless, to stay healthy, take a look at our guide about hospitals, pharmacies and possible health issues in Dubrovnik and on what to do if something happens during your visit to Dubrovnik.

Stay healthy in Dubrovnik

Hospitals

Dubrovnik Hospital
Dubrovnik General Hospital
Photo: Dubrovnik General Hospital

There is only one general hospital in Dubrovnik, covering the whole Dubrovnik region. Severe cases are transported to Split or Zagreb by a plane or a helicopter.

The Dubrovnik General Hospital provides 24hr emergency room facilities with physicians specialsed in advanced and critical care.

Address: Dr. Roka Mišetića 2
Phone: +385 (0)20 431 - 777


Ambulances

Although there is only one general hospital, emergency ambulances are located around the region, so waiting time on their arrival is minimal. For the locations of emergency ambulances, see your map below (red marker).

The ambulance phone number is the same for all the Croatia: 194
You could also use the common emergency telephone number 112 that will get you to reach emergency services (Ambulances, Fire and Rescue Service and the Police)

Pharmacies

During the day, it won't be a problem to find a pharmacy. There are many pharmacies in Dubrovnik, where most can be found on main tourist routes and locations (e.g. Old Town, Port Gruz...).

There are two 0-24 pharmacies in Dubrovnik, working alternatively every other week. One is in the Old Town on the main street, and the other is next to the port Gruz. Their locations and phone numbers are on the map below (green marker). To check which one is working, give them a call after 20:00 (8 PM) and see which one answers.

Legend: green-pharmacies, red-ambulances, blue-hospitals

Health insurance

EU residents

If you are EU resident, you are probably familiar with European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). EHIC allows you if you are insured by (or covered by) a statutory social security scheme of the EU to receive medical treatment in Croatia for free or at a reduced cost, if that treatment becomes necessary during your visit.

It is very important to take notice that EHIC covers the costs of medical treatment only with contracting health care providers, which is HZZO in Croatia. If you find yourself in need of medical assistance, ask if your EHIC is going to cover the cost of the treatment when you arrive at doctor's, because not all ambulances are partnered with HZZO.

To give you a rough orientation where your EHIC will cover the cost, remember the following:

  • Emergency ambulances have to take you in if there is an emergency and your EHIC is valid there
  • Family practices is your first stop if you have health issues. EHIC is usually valid there, but not all family practices are partnered with HZZO. Look for the big HZZO sticker on the front door. If you're not sure, ask a nurse or a doctor.
  • Tourist ambulances are not partnered with HZZO, your EHIC will not work there. Tourist ambulances are common on the islands or outside urban areas.

EHIC isn't covering it all. It will cover urgent health care if necessary, even urgent health care of chronic or pre-existing diseases, but not if the goal of your trip is medical treatment. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Croatian nationals. This means that you may have to bear the participation cost if there are any.

EHIC is not travel insurance. Travel insurance will cover most of the costs if anything happens to you, so having one along your EHIC is a must. You can use our travel insurance page to get a quote.


Non-EU residents

Citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are not covered with EHIC and should have travel insurance before travelling to Dubrovnik and Croatia.

Croatia doesn't have special agreements with other world countries, so you should purchase travel insurance before taking a trip to Dubrovnik.


Possible Health Issues

Common diseases and health issues

Dubrovnik is located in Mediterranean belt, and has Mediterranean climate, which means it is not hospitable to any tropic or exotic diseases. Although thousands of people pass through Dubrovnik during the season, thanks to the strict control, particularly on cruise ships, there haven't been any cases of epidemics or exotic diseases in Dubrovnik. Make sure you are up to date on routine vaccines and you should be fine.

Worst thing that can happen to you is to get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water (2-7% distribution chance zone). Take usual measures of prevention (good hygiene and sanitation) and you should be fine.

Rabies is a possibility if you are going camping, hiking or taking any form of adventure travelling. Make notice that all dogs and cats owners are obligated by law to get their pets annual rabies vaccine. There is a minimal number of stray cats and no stray dogs on streets of Dubrovnik. All stray dogs are taken to animal shelter on Zarkovica on Srdj mountain.

During the spring there are increased allergens due to pine blossoming.


Tanning/Sunbathing

Make sure that you are not going tanning during the summer between 10:00 and 17:00. Although there are no ozone holes above Dubrovnik, you should take it easy on sunbathing or sunburns and dehydration could become a harsh reality. Always take a bottle of water with you and avoid going out during the hottest period of the day. Dubrovnik is as beautiful during the morning and evening.

Tanning/Sunbathing in Dubrovnik
Yeah, you are going to do it, just don't do it at noon...
Photo: Lady May Pamintuan on Flickr

Sun allergies are common during the summer. Low immunity and salt water are quite a recipe for a nasty rash. Visit a dermatologist if it happens to you.


Animal stings and bites

SEA URCHINS

Sea urchins are common in Dubrovnik region, especially on rocky beaches. Watch your step when going into the sea, don't step on anything black and pointy. Jelly shoes could provide adequate protection. If you step on one, visit an ambulance if you can't remove spines on your own. Sharp spines generally cause little harm beyond pain and a possibility of infection. They do release a small amount of venom, but it's not enough to affect human body in any way.

Removing sea urchin spines

There are several methods to remove sea urchin spines from your feet, but for the most common one you will need needle/tweezers/razor for removing the spine and olive oil or vinegar for tendering the skin area.

Warm up some vinegar or olive and soak the towel in it. Apply the soaked towel on the skin, bandage it and leave over night or for couple of hours (depends on how deep spines went under the skin). Skin and spines will soften and spines will lift to surface where you will be able to remove them with tweezers or needle. We mentioned razor in case if you need to make a small cut on a skin to remove a spine easier.

Be careful when removing spines. They often break off easily under the skin.

If you don't have the stomach to remove the spine then visit a doctor. Soaking your foot in vinegar or warm olive oil will help a lot in removing the spine, be sure to help out before going to the ambulance.

Sea Urchins in Dubrovnik
Sea urchins - 100% chance to meet them on the beach. Watch your step!
Photo: sarowen on Flickr
HORNED VIPER

Horned viper is a deadly venomous snake, easily recognised by her arrow-like head with two "horns" on snout. If you are going hiking, make sure you are wearing long trousers and watch your step. Although horned viper is the most venomous European snake, it is not aggressive and will bite as the last resort of defence. It is probable that it will hiss and run away, but don't tempt your luck. If you see a horned viper, leave it alone. It won't attack you if not provoked.

SHARKS IN DUBROVNIK?

Blue shark's habitat is the southern Adriatic. Blue shark is endangered, lives only on the open sea and it will rarely wonder near the coast. There has never been a shark attack on human in Dubrovnik region or Croatia, so you can consider Adriatic shark-safe sea

TICKS

Ticks are common in Croatia. They live in tall grass and bush. They are easy to remove bay using tweezers - take tick as close to its head as possible and pull it out. Don't rotate, just pull and his head should come out of your skin. If it snaps and stays in, visit an ambulance.

BLACK WIDOW SPIDER

Mediterranean black widow spider is commonly found throughout whole Mediterranean region. Easily recognisable by red spots on its black body, tends to habitat on rocky walls, next to young olive trees on site of fire or old farming machines. Very poisonous, not really aggressive, but will defend itself by biting. Its bite is almost painless, but the muscles will start to cramp within an hour. Visit the doctor immediately. It's venom is deadly to cats, has medium effect on humans and no effect on dogs.

MAUVE STINGER JELLYFISH

Mauve stinger jellyfish swims to Dubrovnik periodically, usually at the beginning of the swimming season, so the cases of stinging are low.

MOSQUITOES

Mosquitoes are quite common in Dubrovnik. Recently, a more annoying tiger mosquito showed up - smaller, with more painful bite leaving a large bite-mark and swelling, usually shows up during the second part of summer. Use mosquito repellent during the evening and if a bite leaves a mark, vinegar will help.


Sexual diseases

HIV and AIDS are rare in Croatia - there are around 70 cases of HIV in whole Croatia and around 20 cases of AIDS.

STDs are a serious problem all over Croatia. Target groups are young people age 20-25 who rarely treat STD. If you are planning on having sexual contact, buy and use condoms. Latex in condoms will protect you from most bacterial and viral infections.

Food and Drink

Food poisoning

Since 2009. all business subjects that are working with food are obliged to conduct HACCP. Nevertheless, take usual precautions when ordering food or before you start eating:

  • Food should be fully cooked and served hot, not lukewarm or at room temperature
  • Hard cooked eggs are OK, raw or soft-cooked eggs present a risk
  • Always wash your fruits and veggies
  • Don't eat sushi if you can't see the sea
  • When buying fresh fish, one is easily recognized by glassy (clear) eyes and strong sea scent
  • If it tastes funny or looks funny, don't eat it

Salmonella

Salmonella is a real threat to everyone during the summer. High air temperatures and poultry, dairy produce and eggs just don't mix well. To make sure that you don't end up sick follow these simple rules:

5 SIMPLE RULES TO AVOID SALMONELA
  • 1. Undercooked chicken is a big NO!
  • 2. Go to the ice-cream shop where everyone is buying to be sure it's fresh
  • 3. Eggs always present a risk - make sure they are hard boiled or cooked completely
  • 4. Milk should always be kept in the fridge
  • 5. If your meal doesn't feel safe, don't eat it
Ice Cream in Dubrovnik
Go to popular ice-cream parlours, be sure that ice cream is fresh and properly refrigerated
Photo: Thomas Hawk on Flickr

Water

Tap water is perfectly safe to drink in Dubrovnik Riviera. Some say it is the best in whole Croatia. During the summer there are no water reductions, but during the rest of the year there are some. If the weather report predicts rain for a whole day or more, make a water reserves, because it is very likely that tap water isn't going to pass the health check until rains stop.

On the islands, people usually drink bottled water. Not to worry, tap water is perfectly safe to drink, it's the taste that drives people to buy bottled water.

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